Parents, kids not calling you back? Frustrated mom develops app that remotely locks devices until they do
This is not a new phenomenon, kids have been ignoring or rebelling against their parents since the dawn of mankind. Technology that makes us all connected can be easily ignored too. While the kids see it as a parent that won’t leave them alone, often mom or dad just want to check in and make sure all is well.
When Sharon Standifird was trying to contact her kids, and they didn’t respond, she was furious that it was simply due to them electing to ignore her. Never mind that the kids don’t pay the bills, or that Sharon was just checking in, the kids made a mistake that motivated their mom to develop an app that forces the kid’s hand.
Called Ignore No More, Sharon embarked on the challenge of developing an app which virtually shuts the kids’ phones down until they return her message. “It takes away texting, it takes away the gaming, it takes away calling their friends. The child will always be able to call 911,” according to Sharon.
Available now in Google Play, Ignore No More (see source link in slide show), will remotely lock the kid’s phone, offering them only the ability to call a pre-selected list of contacts. The parent can then provide an unlock password and everything returns to normal. The app cannot be disabled by the kid either.
Needless to say, Sharon’s (and other parents’) kids respond to her in a much more timely fashion now. Her son, Bradley, it torn on his mom's accomplishment, “Um, well I thought it was a good idea, but for other people, not me.”
source: CBS New York (1, 2)
1. AlikMalix (Posts: 1002; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)
Does this require the app on both phones Parent and Kids? if so, wouldn't it be easy to just delete the app and now your parent cannot use the privilege? If this works whithout the need for an app on Kid's phone then it'll be harder. But how about putting the phone on airplane mode (knowing your mom gonna block your phone) you can still play games, take photos, and other things that do not require data? Or turning off just data or just cellular (depending how the block signal is sent) and be able to use wifi, or data apps to text and call...
Just curious. There wasn't much detail about kids ability to bypass this...
4. Vexify (banned) (Posts: 570; Member since: 16 Jun 2014)
Permissions, hiding apps, locking apps from deletion, etc.
34. AlikMalix (Posts: 1002; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)
Thanx vex. But i already found that out from my android buddy. This app is legit.
12. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 792; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)
Maybe the parents can secretly take their phone, root it, install the app as a system app, and then unroot it?
32. qajs1 (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Jan 2012)
I would just root it again and remove it. Not that hard.
33. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 1038; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
or you know threaten to take the phone off them if they delete the app !
29. BadKerning (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Aug 2014)
From what I understand, it uses device administrator privileges to "prevent" removal. However, this requires you to have the child/partner/etc's device and it be unlocked to open the app and give it device admin privileges once you install it, even if you do it via Google Play in browser.
Device admin may prevent removal by just going into the apps menu in settings, but it cannot stop you from deactivating device admin privileges and then removing it like normal apps (or even doing a factory reset). If they decided to make a version which requires rooting, install as system app, then unroot, this can still be reversed by rerooting and/or flashing a custom ROM. This type of behavior would also likely cause it to be flagged as malicious by the antivirus apps in the Play Store, especially if it could already root some devices.
Believe me, kids can find ways around just about anything (I'll be honest-I started programming when I wanted to get around an over-restrictive web filter on the family PC as a kid, and made a keylogger to get the password). I have seen (and suspended) multiple kids during my school IT career for bringing Kali and Backtrack Linux disks to school, clearing the local admin password and reenabling the account, booting in safemode w/o networking, installing games and programs, circumventing restrictions (namely, disabling Vision client software), then booting back normally and running their games, torrenting porn (yes, this actually happened...), etc., completely bypassing Active Directory (and the firewall, for kids smart enough to run a proxy or VPN at their homes and use it here).
The final problem is that if you are to install it remotely, your Google account must already be setup on the device, which is a terrible idea due to them now having full access to your Gmail, Google Drive, etc. and being able to purchase stuff on your account (if you haven't set up authorization prompts properly for payments in the Play Store yet, anyway). Once they remove it, they can then remove the app from your purchase history (or their own, if you bought it under their account) and you now have lost your software license(s).
As a father who has a very open communication channel with his son, this is not something I would consider necessary, as we both trust each other and regularly talk. However, I see this as a tool that is ripe for abuse by helicopter parents, abusive/controlling partners, and hackers (though it would probably be easier just to use Device Manager if you already have their Google account...), and am concerned about it.
38. JohnZimmerman (Posts: 12; Member since: 17 Sep 2012)
Don't forget "freezing" the app with Titanium Backup Pro.
If a parent like you installed this on his kid's phone, there would be no chance of the kid getting away with any of the methods of deactivation you mentioned for more than a few days... ;-)
35. darkkjedii (Posts: 12618; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)
Yep, until u get home, and they delete your phone privileges.
39. Dinged (Posts: 12; Member since: 12 Jan 2012)
Be open about the app on your child's phone and the rules. Add a feature where the child's phone app logs itself on a regular time interval and uploads itself to a central server. On the parent's phone, create a "remote health check" that regularly collects logs from central server. If no logs are found or suspicious intervals are missing...alert parent, have a 3-strike rule and either suspend phone privileges/give them a candy bar phone (whatever the agreed upon rule of giving them the smartphone in the first place)
3. AlikMalix (Posts: 1002; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)
Hope IRS or your Bank does not get a hold of this to block your phone when the payment is due and not let you use it until you call them to make your payment... You know what I mean?
36. Pancholo (Posts: 377; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)
Or phone companies blocking your shiny, new phone that was obtained off-contract but the full price hasn't been paid yet? You know, like in those off-contract plans that let you pay off part of the phone's retail price monthly.
You'd need to take it to your carrier's office to have it unlocked - the lock of shame! :D
5. scsa852k (Posts: 303; Member since: 16 Oct 2012)
Problem is, most moms are not caught up to technology enough to use this kind of an app properly.
It will create more frustrations between them and their kids.
8. Slammer (Posts: 1125; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)
This mom is forgetting how resourceful kids are. If an adult can invent a child proof technology or product, it will be the child that discovers the key to "Un-invent" it.
28. lyndon420 (Posts: 1785; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)
This is true...but if the little sh*ts want their parents to keep paying for their phone service they better just learn to accept it - or invent another way to pay for their phones. In my opinion this is a good idea.
30. Slammer (Posts: 1125; Member since: 03 Jun 2010)
I gave you a thumbs up because I think it is a great idea as well "IF" the kid is generally passionate about trying to keep a certain responsibility with their phone. My concern, however, is that kids can be super rebellious no matter what the parent tries and parents are still going to have to pay regardless unless they fork over an ETF to disconnect the line. I think the best idea is to just take the phone away completely if the kid can't abide by the rules. Nothing says "I'm being serious" more than proactive punishment. Phones have become pacifiers for kids. Take it away and they'll cry a little until they realize that mommy and daddy aren't messing around. Kids would rather have their cars taken away before their phones.
9. gigaraga (Posts: 1381; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)
Nice! Try making this app or the limited iPHONE
10. techloverNYC (Posts: 422; Member since: 20 Nov 2012)
Most parents these days won't even know how to activate this app on their phone.
11. fzacek (Posts: 2207; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)
I don't fully understand how the password unlocking works. Does the mom have to tell the password to the kid and they put it in? Otherwise this seems like a very helpful and innovative app...
18. andynaija (Posts: 485; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)
Yes the parent will lock the phone and the kid will have to request the password from the parent to use the phone again.
13. JakeLee (banned) (Posts: 1021; Member since: 02 Nov 2013)
What a useless, harmful app.
The kids will override this in a much shorter period of time than the moms took installing it, thus further increasing the tension for no purpose.
16. na7noo7 (Posts: 274; Member since: 29 Mar 2014)
No, it sounds useful to me. And the iPhone fanboy:
No reason why Android sucks, no reason why iOS is awesome. Whatever, just get back to your day.
14. wkm001 (Posts: 58; Member since: 04 Feb 2014)
It is easy to turn off data for any line with AT&T. On AT&T's website. That would get their attention.
17. elitewolverine (Posts: 2068; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)
Or just get a windows phone and have it built right on in.
Setup 'childs' account with MS Account, you get access to all their usage, ability to limit usage and ability to restrict what can be seen.
You can log into windowsphone.com, ring, lock, find location and erase the phone.
19. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3737; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)
Are you saying that Windows Phone comes standard with "Big Mother" ?? :)
23. aSystemOverload (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Aug 2014)
Yes and you can set up restricted accounts on Android and the Android Device Manager can identify the location of the device, lock it, erase it etc... They had it long before WinPhone did.
20. lilg29 (Posts: 89; Member since: 14 Sep 2011)
Ha over my dead body. If your kid is responsible they'll call. Its not that hard to just call back.
21. nasznjoka (Posts: 360; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)
Of course it can work, make the app stay hidden in the phone the kid can not see it and there's no way to access it unless may be you dial some numbers. That way kids are done
22. hameed1989 (Posts: 47; Member since: 29 Aug 2012)
Paranoia can be such a good motivator!!!
what next...installing GPS tracking chips into your children!!
24. astarling10 (Posts: 20; Member since: 12 May 2014)
AT&T already had something like that. If I had more than 30 posts, I could link it. It looks like an armband with GPS chip in it. $150!
25. quakan (Posts: 1223; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)
Sounds like this mother has some control issues.
27. jadjr (Posts: 18; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)
parents barely knows how to use a phone and her kids are old (supposedly) so she most be old
31. alexvv (Posts: 101; Member since: 16 Oct 2013)
being a mom + being a developer + watching over a teenager = nothing good comes out of it